Every senior’s struggle: College applications


Sarah Metzel

Senior Jenna Velasquez is stressed out about compiling all the paperwork for her applications.

The dreaded season of senior stress has begun and hopeful college applicants are hunkering down and attempting to satisfy the admissions requirements of their dream schools.

What makes us the most angry is seeing an IB Diploma candidate being hounded by the pressure that comes with college applications.

It doesn’t even have to be an IB student, any high school senior can relate to this scenario. 

“One method of organization that my counselor suggested is creating a folder for each college,” says senior Jenna Velasquez. “You put all the requirements in these folders, such as the school address, fees, deadline, and all the parts of the application.”

We think to ourselves – are all these parts really enough? Can my 400 hours of community service with Islamic Relief or my officer positions in many honor societies enable my acceptance to William and Mary, University of Virginia or any school, for that matter?

I know that countless other students have the same thoughts, participate in several extracurricular activities, and go to sleep at three a.m.

For most students, filling out college applications will be first time they have to spill out their entire life story. Extracurricular sheets can feel like a popularity contest, and sometimes the essays force us to reveal deeply personal events from our life.

In addition to maintaining good grades and doing extracurricular activities, students must prepare for college interviews.

Even though college interviews help the interviewers get an accurate vibe of the student’s character, these can either make or break a student and their hopes in attending a certain university.

To make the process more simple, college applications should be integrated into the school curriculum, whether in English or W4 classes.

Teachers could even start to teach about the college admissions process as early as sophomore or junior year. That way, we would be prepared when the fall of senior year rolls around.

When hearing about college acceptances, our hearts palpitate at the thought of finding out if we are wanted by the school of our dreams.

For most of us, getting into the college of our dreams is the first and last goal in our high school careers. However, even the ranking in your graduating class matters. How will colleges consider the margins when looking at all the AHS students?

Regularly, universities face the challenge of comparing close candidates: two applicants of different backgrounds but with the same classes, achieving the same marks, similar SAT/ACT scores and nothing to distinguish the two besides a college essay.

Perhaps one of those two college essays was to be deemed unoriginal or trite. That marks the beginning of a successful future for one student and the end of the other student’s academic career.

“The competition is really scary,” said Velasquez. “Some college essays are only 250 words, and I’m thinking: how can I stand out to them in such few words?”

Sometimes, there will be students with one family member who has donated a huge sum of money to the university over several years.

That student who applies is probably a shoe-in, despite having average or lower than average academic grades and SAT scores. This is buying your way into college!

Some students have quadruple legacy at a university and there is a much greater chance of this student being accepted to the school than someone who has consistently demonstrated academic excellence.

“I’m worried that I’ll put all this effort into my applications, and not get accepted into any of my schools,” said senior Alina Garcia.

There are injustices in the college applications process, but many schools are making progress when it comes to acceptance equality.

Schools are starting to adopt need-blind admissions policies, meaning that they do not even look at the socio-economic status of their applicants when determining their acceptance decisions.

A handful of schools even have a need-blind admissions policy and meet full demonstrated need, including some favorite schools of AHS students. University of Virginia, University of Richmond, Haverford, and Georgetown are a few school who practice both of these policies.

Although the trial of college applications might seem unbearable now, you will thank yourself four months, four years, and four decades down the road.

“When I get in, I will scream and shout with excitement,” said Garcia. “”I will be so proud of myself because not everybody in my family has gone to college.”

Dont give up.